NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES v. IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF

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Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.

NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES,Plaintiff–Respondent, v. R.R., Defendant–Appellant. IN RE: THE GUARDIANSHIP OF S.M.R.,

DOCKET NO. A–6197–11T1

Decided: January 23, 2014

Before Judges Simonelli and Haas. Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Evelyn F. Garcia, Designated Counsel, on the brief). John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Andrea M. Silkowitz, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel;  Tara Beth LeFurge, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief). Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, Law Guardian, attorney for minor S.M.R. (Katherine J. Bierwas, Designated Counsel, on the brief).

Defendant R.R. appeals from the June 29, 2012 judgment of guardianship, which terminated her parental rights to her daughter, S.M.R., born in September 2002.   Defendant contends that plaintiff New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (Division) failed to prove each prong of N.J.S.A. 30:4C–15.1a by clear and convincing evidence, and the trial judge abused her discretion by admitting certain evidence, placing undue weight on unfounded referrals, and ignoring S.M.R.'s alleged history of lying.   After reviewing the evidence presented to the trial judge, and in light of prevailing legal standards and the arguments presented, we reject these contentions and affirm.

We will not recite in detail the history of the Division's involvement with defendants.   Instead, we incorporate by reference the detailed factual findings and legal conclusions contained in Judge Camille Kenny's June 29, 2012 oral opinion.   We add only the following brief comments.

We are satisfied that commencing with the Division's first contact with the family in November 2005, and continuing up to and including the start of trial in January 2013, the Division provided multiple opportunities for defendant to reunify with her daughter and address the conditions that led to the child's placement into foster care.   The Division removed S.M.R. from defendant's care because she was physically abusing the child.   As a result of the abuse, defendant was convicted of fourth-degree child abuse, N.J.S.A. 9:6–1 and –3, and sentenced to a two-year probationary term.   After the removal, the Division provided defendant a myriad of services, including homemaker instruction, parenting skills classes, psychological evaluations, and individual and family counseling.

Following a reunification, and despite the numerous services the family received, defendant did not stop physically abusing S.M.R. The continued abuse resulted in defendant's conviction for third-degree endangering the welfare of a child, N.J.S.A. 2C:24–4a.   Defendant was sentenced to a three-year term of imprisonment and faces deportation upon release.

Judge Kenny carefully reviewed the evidence presented and thereafter concluded that the Division had met by clear and convincing evidence all of the legal requirements for a judgment of guardianship.   Her opinion tracks the statutory requirements of N.J.S.A. 30:4C–15.1a, accords with In re Guardianship of K.H.O., 161 N.J. 337 (1999), In re Guardianship of D.M.H., 161 N.J. 365 (1999), and N.J. Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. A.W., 103 N.J. 591 (1986), and is supported by substantial and credible evidence in the record.  N.J. Div. of Youth & Family Servs. v. F.M., 211 N.J. 420, 448–49 (2012).   We conclude that defendant's contentions lack sufficient merit to warrant further discussion, Rule 2:11–3(e)(1)(E), and affirm substantially for the reasons Judge Kenny expressed in her comprehensive and well-reasoned oral opinion.

Affirmed.

PER CURIAM

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